Guest Post: Why I Support MOAS

Gregory Nasmyth was educated at St David’s University College, Lampeter. While reading Environmental Studies, Greg first became concerned about green issues. For many years, Greg worked as a journalist covering a broad range of topics. He supports environmental and progressive causes in the UK and around the world, including but not limited to, alternative energy and environmentalism, international co-operation and the rights and protection of refugees. Here, he discusses his motivation to advocate for humanitarian approaches to the migration phenomenon and why he supports MOAS.

I have been lucky enough to have crewed and captained racing yachts in many of the world’s oceans. To challenge yourself and your crew in a boat that has been designed and built to handle the best and the worst the ocean can throw at you is both exhilarating as well as terrifying. As every sailor knows, the sea is your mistress, and it is upon her whim whether you sink or swim, the line between life and death never finer.

The first fundamental rule of sailing is that a boat and all those who sail her shall give all possible help to any person or vessel in danger.  And it was this that came to mind, when, in 2014,  I first started seeing the images that began to appear on our televisions and in our newspapers. I knew, that no matter their background, religion or reason, it was our fundamental duty to do everything possible to assist and aid those people who chose to put out to sea in unsuitable and overcrowded vessels.

Then it was announced that Operation Mare Nostrum, the naval and air operation to assist migrants fleeing the turmoil of North Africa was to be superseded by a much smaller and less well-funded operation, my heart naturally sank. The desperation of those who chose to embark on such a perilous journey, risking themselves and their loved ones in unsuitable and overcrowded vessels, knowing not where they’re going, or even if they will survive, but knowing that anything is better than what they left behind, cannot be gauged from the safety of a living room. And if the thinking behind winding down Mare Nostrum was that it would discourage others from making the deadly crossing, time and mortality have proved that sadly wrong.

And so, Christopher and Regina stepped-in and up, to fill a gap in response between Government and civil society, as Europe collectively went walk-about and seemingly hoped the largest migration of humanity since the Second World War would just go away, quietly, setting-up and funding MOAS from their own pocket, and in record time, I was inspired not only by their innovation and resourcefulness but by their humanity.

I will continue to support in every way I can the work of MOAS, knowing that while the rest of the World chooses to look away, when their silhouettes appear on the darkened horizon on a wild and windswept Mediterranean night, they represent not only rescue for the desperate and the deserted, but a shining beacon of hope for us all.

Gregory Nasmyth